Capitol Area Greenway – Trail 02 Report 1: Beaver Dam Trail 1.4 miles
For those visiting Raleigh and new residents of Raleigh should be aware of the wonderful park system and the “Capitol Area Greenway.”
The “Capitol Area Greenway” is a project in process. Started in March 1974 by the city council of Raleigh it has a master plan to make sure that there is open space for residents throughout the city. It is being built one trail, one park and one community area at a time.
Today the city boasts more than 50 miles of trails connecting many of the more than 3000 acres of city park land.
In 1996 Hurricane Fran badly damaged the parks and trails throughout the city. A clearing and rebuilding was required the years immediately following the storm. Today the city is well underway on its project to create links between the greenways and realize the original plan. Many of the trails are still to be connected, while those that are create wonderful off road access to many parts of the city for bikers, hikers and runners.
Beaver Dam Trail: Report 1
This trail that is just north of Durant Nature Park has been around for a while as a shorter trail.
One entrance to the trail starts at Leshire Dr. and Attingham; Dr. Leshire Dr. can be reached from Durant Rd between Falls of Neuse Rd. and Capital Blvd.
The other end of the trail starts at the intersection of Cub Trail and Finley Ridge Lane. This start point can be reached from Durant Rd to Finley Ridge Lane not to far from the intersection of Durant Rd and Falls of Neuse Rd.
The trail crosses Camp Durant Rd just south of the intersection with Cliff Haven Place. The best parking for the trail can be found at Durant Nature Park at the end of Camp Durant Rd.
Another possible entry into the trail exists where the trail crosses Hiking Trail and Philmont Drive. This has street parking only as an option.
As with all possible start points for this trail, only the Durant Camp Rd parking offers plentiful parking. The other points all offer on street parking to various degrees. There is another possible entry point but it is marked by tow away signs; not a good sign of hiker friendly neighbors.
After at the advice I give I decide to start at the corner of Cub Trail and Finley Ridge Lane. Here I parked on Cub Trail near the corner.
The entry is just opposite the corner with Durant Road about 100 feet north to my left. I will be heading east from this point.
I enter through the trail opening marked by posts and a sign informing me that this trail is open to hikers, bikers (non-motorized) and dogs on leash. It also informs me that I cannot take my horse, motorcycle or gun on this trip.
The entry way is open and very, very green. It is indeed lush. There is an edge of a few feet either side of the wide paved trail that appears to have been mowed.
Entering at this point, I notice that there is no trash can or dog bags that often mark city trails. I suspect this is an oversight as an entry near a neighborhood would probably be heavily used by dog owners. (Folks in Raleigh love their dogs)
The trail winds through lush vegetation as it meanders along the side of a gurgling stream that is flowing east. When I say the trail meanders I mean it. The gyrations to the left and the right mean that from very few places on the trail can one see very far ahead or behind.
It’s nice the way the trail creates a sense of being alone while you know that many others are using the same trail.
Shortly I come upon a man with two tiny young ladies out for a comfortable walk through the trail. This is the first sense that others are on the trail. It doesn’t take long to be back amidst the woods in a flowing solitude, having left the intruders behind.
I pass a trail that enters from the side, built by someone who wants quick entry to the greenway. The trail looks like it may be abandoned. It that instance, it may be a trail that the greenway trail replaced.
All along the length of the trail there are other trails that enter from one side or another. I followed a few and they connect to neighborhoods, houses or apartment buildings that are proximate to the trail.
The trails are constructed of dirt paths, wood planks and concrete walks. Many have little bridges to help ford the stream.
I pass over my first bridge. This bridge is a wooden bridge that is of a design that appears older than the current crop of greenway bridges. It doesn’t mean it is older, just that the newer designs use bolts and have certain sleekness. This bridge uses nails and every thing on it is squared off.
Just after the bridge is the trails first trash receptacle.
And after having traveled perhaps a third of a mile, I find that I am at the start/finish location of the trail. This and the trail markers are two reasons I do not believe the published trail length per the Parks Department. The mile markers indicate the trail from here to the end is about 1 Ã?Â½ miles distant. If I do a round trip without the distance to get to the start, I do at least 3 miles. The published length of 1.4 miles would give me a 2.8 mile trip. The distance from this point to Cub Trail would add between Ã?Â½ and 2/3 miles to the trip. Perhaps someday they will move the start marker and recalibrate the trail length.
About a quarter mile down the trail is the first bench. It is not a hard hike so except for the very old and very young walkers this does not represent a problem.
From the bench I can see the back of some sport areas that are most likely part of a Middle School. The trail here is open and wide. It is lined with trees except just opposite the bench; where a break in the trees allows me to see a bit of civilization.
The trail winds onward back and forth like the bends in a string used to tease a cat. As it winds it follows the stream on my right. For the most part the stream is hidden behind a thin veneer of dense green shrubbery. But every so often the stream comes closer to the trail to show off its best features.
The stream has worn away the earth to reveal the stone foundation of the earth below. I come across one place where two tiny waterfalls gurgle and shimmy in the sunlight; blowing bubbles to aerate the water for the fishes that dance in the clear pools below.
Just beyond this water show I locate the second bench along the trail. This one is located in a wooded forest glade that provides no hint of nearby civilization. Near here I pass two folks who have just seen some deer; the real owners of these woods.
The trail has several winds and bends before I reach an exit at Hiking Trail. Here I have to cross the street and reenter the trail on the other side.
Here I see my first hint of Kudzu on the trail. Though there are some who like kudzu, I suspect that on the greenway it will be problematic. New greenway trails open up the woods; this in turn provides plenty of opportunity for vines to grow on the forest margins. Most vines, even wisteria and ivy, do not cut the host off from sunlight. Kudzu does! As a result the presence of kudzu here I suspect poses a risk to the trails and the fauna.
Kudzu flowers a quite attractive and the vines themselves a prized for basket weaving and cattle feed. Unfortunately the vines grow too well and can kill even the largest of trees.
I cross the street and enter through the wall of vines. The greenway trail has another entry sign and again no map type signage. If I didn’t know something about this trail, I would be metaphorically ‘hiking blind’. (I couldn’t use flying blind as I would surely crash)
In a very short distance I come upon another park bench. This one is a wooded space near rails alone the path that give the sense of another bridge without the reality. They are located over a small culvert.
Just beyond here I pass the Ã?Â½ mile marker. I know that this is more than that, but whatever.
I go past another pair of trail railings and come upon people moving in both directions. A couple with a child in a stroller and a large happy looking dog are coming toward me. A person on a bike is moving past them, away from me. An in a few seconds I am passing the couple, the child and the dog. This will be the most crowded moment on the trail.
The trail winds on with the stream on the right and the woods on both sides. The winding seems gentle here as I approach another park bench and the Ã?Â¾ mile marker. There is a trash receptacle at this location.
I pass another railing that is only on one side of the trail. Then I come upon a place where a large area of stone has been revealed by the stream as it winds its way along the north side of Durant Nature Park.
The trail winds in long flowing portions as it flows along with the water. The sides of the trail are for the most part lined with trees and some boulders. To my left I get occasional glimpses of houses and side trails.
There are a few places along the trail where garden flowers have flowed into the natural environment; adding color and variety.
Finally I reach Camp Durant Rd. Here is the second place I get a hint of Kudzu beginning it’s entry into the greenway system. Here some small trees have been overcome with the rich green Kudzu leaves and the very attractive flowers that will sped the vine further.
I cross Camp Durant Road and proceed along the way. The next park bench is perhaps a tenth of a mile or so from the street. It might be a bit further. Just around the next corner from here is the 1 Ã?Â¼ mile marker.
I have now passed the last park bench and am proceeding toward the end of the trail.
The next side passage I pass is the trail to Leshire Dr. near Attingham Dr. It is a paved trail about a tenth mile in length or so.
I continue straight ahead for a very short bit and come up to the start/end sign. It is possible that this is only .15 miles from the 1 Ã?Â¼ mile post. It is also possible that it is a few feet more. At any rate the other end of the trail does not account for the distance from the start/end marker and the entry point.
Of course now I had to retrace my steps. Going back is for me a lot more fun than going out. Going out I worry about how long the trail is, who is it designed for, what are the major points of interest, how to best describe it, and where can folks park to get to the trail.
Going back I look for anything of interest. I notice all the flowers, birds, insects, animals and fellow travelers. I notice the types of trees and plants. I stop by the stream and see if I can identify the existence of any fish, lizards or frogs.
If you like wildflowers, and an occasional domestic intruder, this is and excellent trail for spring, summer or fall hiking. For types of trees this trail will give anyone a good challenge. It has many types of oaks, maples, magnolia and a plethora of diverse native and introduced trees. It also has a huge variety of vines that are growing along the forest edge.
I love to see butterflies, not that I can identify any specific ones by name, except the Monarch and Swallowtail.
On this trip I got to see a beauty of a butterfly that decided to let me photograph it. It first let me takes its picture from underneath and then from on top as it turned around a purple flower.
I also saw numerous bird and other bugs. The single most interest bug I ran into was a Wooly Aphid. It was on what I believe was an Alder tree but I am still struggling in my tree identification. It wasn’t just one bug, but rather hundreds. It didn’t look like a bug or bugs at all. In fact, I though that the tree might have rabies. The leaves edges were covered with foam that looked like shaving cream.
When I touched the leaves (I know not a good idea if the tree is rabid) the white foam disappeared under the leaves and was clearly running for shelter.
I did not know at the time what I had seen. In fact this is the kind of unusual find that tests ones sanity. A biologist friend helped me identify that it was an aphid and the search engines helped me find images of aphids that lead me to the name. Most likely the rabid tree had a case of Wooly (Apple) Aphids.
I enjoyed this trail as it had many little things to find. It had flowers high on the trees. It had tiny birds with yellow bodies and black wings. It had bugs of types I do not believe I have ever seen before. It had fish that were revealed by their shadows.
I came along people with family, dogs and on bikes who were as pleasant as could be. When I took the picture of the butterfly an elderly couple stopped and waited for me to get a good picture so as not to scare it off.
On the greenways the scenery, foliage, animals and environment are all great. What really makes the greenway a great place is all the fantastic and friendly people you meet along the way.
Bikers: Excellent gentle ride that can be extended a little beyond three miles round trip by riding in the neighborhoods at each end of the trail.
Hikers: Excellent. Nice open trail hike on paved surface. Round trip is 2.8 miles (plus a bit) through mostly deciduous forest along a flowing creek.
Older Walkers: Excellent trail with park benches about every quarter mile or so on most of the trail.
Very Young Walkers: Very Good. Trail is long and flat with no steep grades or rough surfaces. Two streets are crossed during this hike.
Baby Strollers: Excellent flat trail. Trail is somewhat open to the sun.
Roller Skaters: Excellent. The trail is long and flat with no real hills.
Picnickers: No picnic facilities on this trail. There are park benches.
Runners: Good for a short flat run. No challenging hills or difficult grades. Paved trails can be hard of some runners.
Birders: Many open spots on the trail for viewing with benches about every quarter mile. Numerous birds are visible on this open sunny trail with dense places for nesting close to the trail.